God is Still Speaking,

A Pastoral Letter

A Pastoral Letter


5/15/2020

Dear Central Atlantic Conference,

First, we greet you this Eastertide in the name of the Risen Christ, who lives and reigns now and forever.

Second, we want to express our sincere appreciation for the ministry you are continuing to do with diligence,
faithfulness, and excellence during COVID-19. We are inspired and so very proud of the ways you have borne
witness to as an Easter people during these days of crisis. Please know foremost that we, your covenantal partners in
ministry, are praying for you and are here to support you in whatever way we can.

When we last corresponded with you, we had perhaps an underlying optimism that COVID-19 would be past us and
that we would be physically gathered together in all of our church settings. It is clear to us that this is not happening.
The pandemic continues its relentless assault across this country and the world. We grieve deeply and personally
the loss of life. We are saddened by the loss of jobs and the staggering levels of unemployment. And we are
angered by the lack of compassionate and just leadership that perpetuate long-standing inequities in our political,
economic and health care systems that are amplifying the suffering caused by COVID-19 in our most vulnerable
communities. We believe that this is the time to be the Church, more specifically the United Church of Christ,
speaking truth to power and side-by-side with those who are voiceless, and those voices rendered silent in the face
of this pandemic.

For the above reasons your Conference Ministry Team is recommending that you continue to suspend in-person
worship and gatherings until June 15 th . We know that this is a hard thing again to recommend. We would love
nothing more than to be in worship with you in the beauty of your sanctuaries. However, it is our opinion that your
health, safety and well-being are far more important than the current pressures to place profit and ‘liberty’ above the
lives of people.

As said before, we sincerely and greatly respect the autonomy of the local congregation which is at the heart of
who we are together as the United Church of Christ. We also know that some of your communities are on the
threshold or are already in the midst of a phased reopening. We are working on guidelines accordingly and
we will make them available to you soon. We will provide these resources in direct communications and our
Happenings weekly newsletter. Please be on the lookout for these resources and also do the important work of
discernment and information gathering around reopening your buildings. Follow the guidance of public health
officials nationally and in your local communities in order that any decisions you make concerning physical
regathering are informed, wise, and faithful. For the decision to physically gather together again and its timing
is both a matter of autonomy and covenant. We believe that June 15th is a prudent timeframe for extending this
recommendation. Yet we encourage you to discern God's will with your leaders and utilize your best and informed
wisdom in making the decision that serves in the best interest, and especially the health and safety, of your
congregations.

We cannot emphasize enough our encouragement to you to take care in these challenging and difficult days. Take
care of yourselves. Take care of your families. Take care of your friends. Let your families and friends take care of
you. Breathe deeply. Get outside. Pray. Meditate. Read. Take a time out. In order to bless you who are faithfully
planning worship every week with an opportunity for both worship and rest, the Conference Ministers of the United
Church of Christ have come together and have created an Eastertide worship you can use this or next Sunday. You
may find the link to this worship by clicking here. We hope that you and your congregations will be blessed by this
worship experience.

Finally, please know that we are with you. We are here for you. And we so appreciate your ministry in “such a time
as this” (Esther 4:14). May God who creates, may Jesus Christ who redeems, and may the Holy Spirit who
sustains, bless and keep you in these days and all days.

Faithfully yours,

Rev. Freeman L. Palmer
Rev. Dr. Audrey C. Price
Rev. Marvin M. Silver
Rev. Nelson R. Murphy

comments powered by Disqus